Be Filled ...

Frost on the pumpkin, brr!  With the beginning of the dreaded ‘furnace season’, my wife and I noticed that the air in our home was becoming dry.  Not only is this bad for our health, but also it could cause our new hardwood flooring to dry out and allow cracks to form.  So we purchased a new humidifier.  Now our whole house feels moist and cozy. 

As I filled one of the two water tanks, I was reminded of the scripture verse ‘be filled by the Holy Spirit' (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:4; Acts 9:17).  And I realized that, just as I have to keep filling up these water tanks in order to keep our home feeling comfortable, so I need to be continually re-filled with the Holy Spirit.  Just as my hardwood floor would dry out and becomes creaky without a constant input of moisture, so I can become dry and cranky without the continual presence of the Holy Spirit.   

I don’t know about you, but I find life is a continual struggle.  Some days are easy and the going is all downhill, but others are difficult and it’s a struggle just to keep moving forward.  It is during the difficult days that I tend to become dry and cranky.   

Despite his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul must have experienced similar struggles.  In Romans chapter 7: 15, 19 he writes,    I don't understand what I am doing.  For I don't practice what I want to do, but instead do what I hate. …  I don't do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don't want to do.   Paul’s solution to his problem was to stay focused on Christ and to be continually filled (topped-up) with the Holy Spirit.  So if this worked for Paul, why not for us?   

In my book Rise Up, I describe how I experienced being filled by the Holy Spirit and the amazing affect this has had on life.  But, like Paul, a one-time experience is not enough; I need to be continually topped up in order to remain positive and energized during the difficult days.  I do this by spending time with Him each day; praying, reading the Word of God and soaking/abiding in His presence.  I pray that you also find ways to be filled daily with His presence.   

If you are going through a dry spell now, can I suggest you check out the rest of my website and consider going on your own 40 Day Journey into the Heart of God. 

Blessings

Mike    

Out with the old - In with the new

Marion and I recently completed a renovation to the main floor of our home. Out with the old carpeting and floor tiling, and in with new solid oak flooring.  But like all worthwhile projects, it required hard work along with some disappointment along the way. 

Initially, I consulted a friend who had just completed his flooring project.  He directed us to a discount flooring centre which, from its website, appeared to have exactly what we needed at a great price.  But when we got there the store was shut down.  We had just wasted half a day but learned a great lesson, you generally get what you pay for!   We visited three more stores before we found exactly what we were looking for and within our budget. 

Our next challenge was to find a good contractor.  This time I asked a neighbour who had recently completed a similar project.  I knew the contractor was hard working and reliable because I had seen him at work the previous summer.  I also had the opportunity to inspect the final job and discovered my neighbour was very satisfied with the price and the quality or workmanship. The contractor was available within my desired time-frame and gave me a well priced quote.  So now that I had my contractor, we agreed on a start-date.  Unfortunately he was delayed on an existing project and we had to wait for almost a week beyond our intended start.

Once the work started, the job went smoothly and he was able to add some finishing touches not in his original quote.   We were very pleased and excited with the transformation of our home. 

As I look back on this project I can’t help but draw comparisons to our spiritual journey.  Scripture tell us to be transformed in our minds, our thinking. Out with the ungodly thinking that we picked up along the way, and in with Godly wisdom and new patterns of behaviour.    Romans  12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. 

But it will not always be an easy road and we will need God's help, especially when we experience disappointments and delays along the way.  As with most people in the bible,  like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul, perseverance is a must!  But in the end our reward will surpass our wildest dreams, as we enjoy living in God’s presence for all eternity.  Now that’s a transformation worth looking forward to! 

Blessings

Michael

Dr. Jesus

A friend of mine recently commented, “Michael, from your book Rise Up it’s obvious that you have seen many supernatural healings.”  And then he continued, “What’s your belief/theology about these healings, and how do you account for the miracles you have seen?”   

After some thought I replied, “First of all let me say that I can’t heal anyone. But, by the grace of God I have been taught to believe in and expect God to heal people when we pray in faith for them.  We are merely doing what Jesus demonstrated during His ministry on earth, and we pray with His authority and in His name”.  

Both the Old and New Testaments have many scriptures recalling God’s healing power, here are just a few:

Deu 7:15 The LORD will turn aside every disease from you. He will not inflict on you the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the LORD, My soul, and never forget any of his benefits: He continues to forgive all your sins, he continues to heal all your diseases,

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he has borne our sufferings and carried our sorrows; yet we considered him stricken, and struck down by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that made us whole was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

Matthew 9:35 Then Jesus began traveling throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness.

And Matthew recalls how Jesus sent out the 12 disciples to heal the sick raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons, (Matthew 10:8).  Later He sent out 72 of His followers to do the same, and they came back rejoicing that even demons submitted to them when they prayed in His name (Luke 10:17).

Finally, just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave the disciples (and by extension us) this same authority to heal the sick and cast out demons in His name (Mark 16:16). 

In my book Rise Up, I explain how, for the first three centuries after Christ miraculous healings were commonplace, but then for a variety of reasons, the church mostly lost faith in healings and also lost the charismatic gifts. But today, faith in healing is being restored and once again we are seeing the supernatural healings. 

Does God heal everyone I pray for?  No, He doesn’t. Do I have all the answers?  No, I don’t.  But I have learnt over the years that my assignment is to pray and allow God do His will in His way.  As Randy Clark says in his book ‘The Thrill of Victory - The Agony of Defeat’, ‘Whatever the outcome (of our prayer) we should always press in for more, and minister with the fullness of God’s love in our hearts’. 

So if you or anyone you know is sick, or about to undergo surgery, why not pray to Dr. Jesus in the sure belief that He is aware of your needs and wants the very best for you?  Sometimes He will provide miracles and sometimes he will heal through the medical doctors.  But always, He will hear your prayer and, He has promised, He is with us until the very end (Isaiah 41:10 , Matthew 28:20).

Blessings,

 Michael

Man's Creativity

A friend of mine recently sent me an Internet collection of dramatic photographs from around the world.  It was comprised of spectacular scenic shots and incredible architectural achievements.  I gazed with wonder at ornate painted ceilings and intricately designed clocks and sundials; at stunning viaducts, bridges and cityscapes.  I saw an entire village perched on the top of a rocky mountain peak, and a switchback road winding its way up to the summit of a remote hillside.  Another photograph was a precarious rope bridge stretching across a deep river gorge and another clinging to a sheer rock face.  

 And I thought of the sheer ingenuity and creativity of Man.  Many of the structures I saw were constructed centuries ago, which means their designers and builders lacked all of the modern technology that we so readily take for granted.  How did they achieve such astonishing feats? What inspired these creative works? 

 But Man has always enjoyed challenges.  We strive to go faster and higher, deeper and further than those people who came before us. We travel to outer space and we explore the inner structure of the atom.  Our children and grandchildren take computers for granted as the boundaries of science and technology expand at ever increasing rates.  It seems that the mind and creativity of Man has no limit … or does it?

 Scripture reminds us that we were created by God, and that his thoughts and actions are infinitely higher than ours.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

 As we justifiably celebrate the achievements of Man, let’s remember that the God who created us - as a tiny speck in His universe - is so much bigger and smarter than we are.  He is able to move through time and space as easily as we lift our hand, or walk across a room.

 So yes, let’s marvel at Man’s creativity, but remember that this too comes from God.

Blessings

 Michael

 

 

 

 

    

Living Water

As I waited in the reception area of a medical clinic recently, I marvelled at the tropical fish swimming back and forth in a large salt water aquarium.  There were fish of every size, shape and colour - red, blue, yellow silver; speckled and striped; flat and rounded.  And as I sat there, captivated by the beauty and diversity of God’s creation, I thought of the phrase ‘living water’.

 At first I thought of the fish that I was watching and how totally dependent they were upon water of their aquarium. And then I reflected that every living creature, plant and animal, needs water to survive, and of course that includes us - human kind.  Indeed, water has shaped the planet we live on, from the roaring oceans to the mighty glaciers, from gushing streams that cascade from high mountain peaks, to mighty rivers meandering their way to the ocean.     

 Then I reflected on the many ways in which mankind has harnessed the power of water.  We use it to turn giant turbines to generate electricity, and we use it to carry cargo and people across the oceans; sometimes lifting massive vessels through a series of locks.  We use water in industry to cool machinery, and as a solvent to dissolve solids.   We use it at home for drinking, cooking, washing; even for flushing toilets. We use it to irrigate crops and to fight fires. And we use it for recreational purposes when we swim, sail, fish or just rest beside a still lake, reading a good book.  Indeed we cannot survive without water.  When thought of in these terms, all water is ‘living water’.

 Finally, I recalled the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, and how he said to her that he was the ultimate source of ‘living water’ (John 4: 9-14).  And later in Jerusalem, He said,   "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!  The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart."  (John 7:37-38)

 As we enter into our summer season, may it be a time of rest and refreshment for all. Let each of us enjoy and be grateful for ‘living water’.

Blessings,

Michael

 

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Clay Jars and Vessels

Last week I wrote on Bible Meditation, here's more on this subject ... 

In Biblical times clay jars were a very common household article.  They were used to store grain, oil, water, wine, bread, coins and even bible scrolls - like the Dead Sea scrolls.  Most were plain, inexpensive and quickly discarded when cracked or broken.  In today’s culture they have been replaced by the ubiquitous plastic bag. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul writes,  ‘But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us’.   The treasure that Paul was referring to was the Word of God (the Old Testament writings), all the teachings of Jesus, and the miracle power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  The clay jars (vessel) referred to his own humanity, with all its frailties and weaknesses.    

As I meditated on this verse I asked the Lord to give me more revelation about the meaning of the passage.  The image that immediately came to me was a clear incandescent light bulb.  I laughed at myself and said “that’s not even a vessel!”  “Look again,” I heard.   As I looked again I realized that the light bulb was indeed a sealed glass vessel containing a wire filament.  As I watched further, the bulb was suddenly ‘switched on’ and became a dazzling white light and I understood that this represented the presence of the Holy Spirit shining forth from the vessel. 

Then I recalled the words of Jesus:  "You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden.  People don't light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good actions and glorify your Father in heaven." Mat 5:14 -16

It’s a big stretch from a clay jar to an incandescent light bulb, but no distance is too far a stretch for the imagination of our God. 

May your light shine brightly! 

Blessings,

Michael

 Postscript:   I recently upgraded my laptop to ‘Word 10 ®’; as a result, I receive a beautiful scenic image when logging into my computer each day.  Last week I received an image of an incandescent light bulb, not attached to any electric socket, but shining brightly.  I burst out laughing at God’s creativity, and how God could use the good folks at Microsoft to bless my day!      

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More on Practicing the Presence of God

Recently God reminded me that, as a way of practicing His presence, I should spend more time with Him in Bible meditation.  I marvel at how He gained my attention in this matter.  It reminds me how much He loves us and how, if we let Him, He directs even the smallest detail of our lives.  Let me explain …

It all started when I ‘found’ a book I thought was long-lost; but there is was, hiding in plain sight on my bookcase!  I knew that this ‘find’ was not accidental so I moved the book to a more prominent position in my den.   The book was a series of daily meditations on the Psalms[1].  Soon after, at a Sunday teaching, a pastor spoke about the merits of Bible meditation, making a clear distinction between Bible study and Bible meditation.   The former involves reading the Bible for information and instruction and involves mostly the left (reasoning) side of your brain.  Meditation, on the other hand, is more right brain focused in which you allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through your brain providing you with anointed reasoning from the mind of God. Bible study and Bible meditation are both good and necessary, they just serve different purposes.  If you are not familiar with hearing God speak to you, it would be helpful to read Days 16 & 17 in my book, Rise Up.

Later that evening, as I was watching my favourite baseball team on TV, I was prompted to switch channels and tune into a Christian channel. Guess what the TV Evangelist was preaching about?   You guessed it, Bible meditation!  “Okay Lord”, I said “you have my attention”, and with that I determined to start my daily meditation on the Psalms.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Psalm 1 starts out - “Blessed is the person who delights in the Law (the Word) of God and meditates on it day and night.  He will be like a tree planted by streams of (living) water, yielding its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither. He will prosper in everything he does.  (Paraphrased from Psalm 1: 1-3)

As I meditated on these words I saw, in the Spirit, a green ribbon of trees meandering through a desert I heard in my spirit “As you meditate on my word you will become like a tree rooted in Me.  As I flow freely in you, you will know the mind of your God and rest in my presence.  You will be like a green ribbon of vegetation in the desert, a source of life and sustenance to the barren world around you.  You will be a place of shade and shelter from the scorching heat, and a source of nourishment and healing to those who are in need.   As you soak in my love I will support you, protect you and prosper you in all that you do …”

Why not try your own Bible meditation, and discover what the Lord wants to say to you. 

Blessings,

Michael

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[1] Prayer Praise & Promises by Warren Wiersbe.    The Good News Broadcasting Association, 1992

Pentecost Sunday

The yearly time of Pentecost has arrived – it’s one of my favourite feast days of the year!  It’s a special day when we can celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit among us.  Let me describe a particular revelation that I received some time ago, when I asked the Lord Jesus, “Lord, how do you see the human spirit?”   As I received His response I sketched an image on paper (Hab 2:3)

In my minds-eye (spirit) I saw a large circle which was slowly filled with a dazzling bright light, and I understood this to be the human spirit[1] being filled with the presence of God.   On the circle were the words ‘Love, Peace, Joy and Freedom’.  Then I saw two smaller circles linked to the larger circle.  I understood these represented the human soul and body.  Gradually I sensed God’s spirit flowing from the human spirit into the soul and body, until all three circles were filled with dazzling light. Ahhhh I felt, this is how we must appear to God when we are totally filled with the Holy Spirit.

Then I sensed the words ‘bear fruit’ and the dazzling light began to fill the whole vista, and I saw the words ‘Family, Friends, Church & World’.  But when I looked downward I could see a part of the scene was still black, and I understood this to represent some sort of evil influence.  As I watched, the light overcame the darkness and the whole scene became dazzling light.  I realised that the Lord was showing me what is possible when we truly surrender to Him, and are filled with His Holy Spirit.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have not reached this stage yet - we are all a work in progress, aren’t we?

I invite you to meditate on the scene or the scriptures (1John1:5, Ez 1:28) that I have just described and ask God to reveal what this means to you.  Write down what the Lord reveals and if you wish send the results to me via this website, and I will post some on this blog.    Also if you would like to draw an image, or images of this scene, I would love to post some of these too.

Have a great Pentecost celebration!

Blessings

Michael

[1] My understanding is that our spirit is the place where we connect to and communicate with God.  Our spirit is primary and is meant to provide leadership to the body and the soul (our mind, will and emotions).  We are spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body (1Thess5:23, Heb 4:12).